fbpx

International Women’s Day: Saiqa Pandor on the importance of representation

In our International Women’s Day series, we explore the theme of #InspireInclusion. Here, Saiqa Pandor, Islington Councillor and Nominative Member of the Cripplegate Foundation board, shares insight on the importance of representation, her role models and taking that first step. 

What role can funders like Islington Giving and Cripplegate Foundation play to inspire more inclusion across their grants and programmes, particularly for women and / or underrepresented groups? 

I think Cripplegate Foundation and Islington Giving do a good job but because I’m based on the ground in the community, a lot of people have never heard of you. So, I think just having more representatives and stalls at events and volunteers’ fairs could be helpful as not everyone is digitally inclusive. With the people I support even though they’re quite savvy with their phone, they’re not they don’t know what’s available out there. Sometimes getting the message across, like having leaflets printed out and distributing them in churches, mosques and community groups within Islington can make things more accessible.

“To be honest, growing up there wasn’t really anyone who looked like me who inspired me… so I became that person.”

Who/can you tell us about a woman (perhaps a woman in Islington or in your area of work) that you are inspired by and why? 

The first person who inspired me was my mum who came to Islington in 1979.  Despite her health challenges she kept on going and going with a smile on her face. As someone who initially came Pakistan and couldn’t speak English, she always said to me you just keep on fighting and keep on going because you have a place just like anyone else.  I know that if she was alive today, she’d be so proud of what I’ve achieved. Closer to home, a woman who inspired me is Councillor Anjna Khurana (Deputy Mayor of the Tollington Ward), who is also an Asian woman counsellor. And then we’ve got Kaya (Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz), the leader of the council who is very inspiring. The other person who really inspired me was Diane Abbot – she’s a woman who has faced lots of obstacles being the first black woman in parliament. To be honest, growing up there wasn’t really anyone who looked like me who inspired me… so I became that person.

“Sometimes it just takes that one brave step of that one woman to make that change, change that narrative and inspire a whole community.”

What impact can women-led organisations have on fostering diversity and inclusion? 

It’s often hard to find role models – it took a picture of a counsellor on a website (i.e. Anjna Khurana) for me to be inspired. I thought if Ange can do this, I can do this! If we have more women from diverse backgrounds in leadership positions, it gives hope to other women that things are changing. Sometimes it just takes that one brave step of that one woman to make that change, change that narrative and inspire a whole community. You know, being a woman is hard and then being a woman from a diverse background is hard. And then it’s even harder if you’re, you’re born here, but you don’t quite fit in because you’re being told you’re always othered. You always second guess yourself but if that woman can get over that and think okay, well we’re not others, we belong here, and we have a role in society, then it gives hope to other women too!

 

 

 

Carers’ Fund report

In early 2024 Islington Giving ran a fund for carers. This took a participatory approach, consulting with carers and carers’ organisations to shape the model,

Read More »